Musk has had my deposit for over a year and still no service.
SpaceX last week launched 49 shiny new Starlink broadband-beaming satellites, which is good. But 40 of them have already, or will shortly, meet their demise due to a geomagnetic storm that struck a few days after their ascent. Which is bad. All 49 satellites reached their planned 210km perigee deployment orbit, though the …
Your specific satelite was one of the ones that just went poof. He'll require another wad of cash if you want him to try again.
*Hands you an extra tall tankard*
Drink up, you now know how most women feel when some <hiss>man</hiss> promises to call them the morning after.
I ah, I uh, I mean... ummmm... please don't cry, it waters down the beer! =-Jp
Men, of course, are never upset if someone they fancy doesn't call back. We're much too rough and tough for that.
FFS it's 2022, do we still need to be peddling this pathetic gender based bollocks? What was wrong with "how most people feel when someone promises to call them the morning after"? Just had to slip a little bigotry in.....
Given that SpaceX, Starlink and even Tesla are heavily associated with billionaire Elon Musk, I don't think it's sexist to refer to a man in this instance.
He doesn't strike me as the kind of man who'd ring back unless he's interested in you birthing his Imperial Progeny*
*Intentional reference to Ming the Merciless in the 1980's Flash Gordon film.
"Sometimes you have no choice, broadband isn't available everywhere or is very slow."
There is a choice, but it's not offering quite the same service. OneWeb offers the same 200Mbps speed but has a business model that means they are unlikely to supply to individuals. Governments, corporates, telcos, education seem to be their target markets.
"Sometimes you have no choice, broadband isn't available everywhere or is very slow."
That's true, but is there enough people in the same boat to be able to maintain 42,000 satellites in orbit (Official number from Elon or Gwen) with a better than 3% failure rate and a five year life span? Can they afford to provide $1,500 dishes to people for $500 for very long?
There is a price to pay for the peace and quiet living back and beyond.
I've had it for 18 months because in our rural location we would typically only get 1-3Mbps, not enough to accomodate the "work from home" directives. 4G wasn't quite up to the job, reception is flaky here and often dropped to 3G. Starlink was a life saver. It has proved very reliable for, so much so that when I started working from the office again and only really used broadband at home for gaming and video streaming services I still couldn't bear to give it up and return to a landline or 4G provider. In fact, I even gave up the land line completely during the interval, although I did wait 6 months to decide if I could take that step. The quality is fine, my only fears are around the cost - they more or less have me over a barrel - and its longevity (presumably if it doesn't prove a money maker the plug will get pulled at some point).
Elon has money from people that want a Semi, Cybertruck and may be really close to returning the reservation money to people that thought they were going to be able to purchase a Model 3 for $35,000. Just wait, very soon you will be able to reserve the chance to buy your first brain implant or sewer tunnel. If you already own a Tesla, do you have your deposit (or full payment) in place for Full Self Driving?
ViaSat has new sats going up and Hughes may also bolster their assets. There are at least three more systems just like Starlink lofting satellites even though there isn't likely the business case to make any one of these new players profitable.
Shielding is actually detrimental against drag. The problem isn't the storm itself but the fact said storms kick up the high atmosphere, which is still prevalent in such a low orbit. Basically, the storm stirred up extra turbulence, causing the satellites to de-orbit early due to the increased drag. It's an unfortunate trade-off when you insist on low-latency satellite communications. Speed of light and all that.
"It's an unfortunate trade-off when you insist on low-latency satellite communications."
Should also note that the affected satellites were at something like 50% of their operational altitudes. They're intentionally inserted very low so that failed satellites will quickly decay. I think the low initial orbit also helps with the process of getting to their assigned "slots", but I don't understand the orbital mechanics that well.
The procedure SpaceX uses is to initially orbit the satellites in a very low Earth orbit.
They then are tested and any that fail testing are left in the low orbit to rapidly deorbit (to reduce non-operational space junk).
Those that pass the test are moved to their operating orbit.
Because of the increased atmospheric drag from the geomagnetic storm, 40 of the 46 were determined to lack the fuel to move them to their operational orbit.
These 40 are the ones which will rapidly deorbit.
"They're intentionally inserted very low so that failed satellites will quickly decay."
That's a happy byproduct for PR spin. They're released low so they can be guided to their intended orbits and the maximum number can be launched per rocket. Oddly, lowering an orbit can take more delta V. The reason this launch had 49 instead of the more common 60 satellites was due to the launch profile. I also guessed that getting the empty back was worth more than saving weight and dropping the first stage in the drink.
Shielding is both expensive to create, heavy, and then doubly expensive as the additional weight takes greater resources to get into space.
They skipped installing it (save money), used the weight savings to include a larger electronics package (more functionality per kg), and thus the lighter weight cost less to lob into space (or allowed more satelites to be lobbed for the same original price).
Yes the lack of it meant that the silly buggers got blown out of the sky the first time the sun farted, but the money saved means they can afford to fling another load to try again.
*Hands you a pint*
Drink up, it'll help drown the jealousy over not having a few hundred billion bucks of our own. =-Jp
Try reading. The electronics were not fried. Solar flares, when they hit the Earth, cause the atmosphere to expand. That causes the drag on LEO satellites to increase substantially. (Yes, there is still atmospheric drag that isn't negligible 100's of kilometers up.) That caused the satellites to start deorbiting.
The problematic junk isn't low enough to be affected much by atmospheric expansion, or it would be taken down already
As is being _repeatedly_ pointed out, Starlink put their birds into exceptionally low initial orbits, specifically so any DOA units won't cause clutter. That's absolutely critical when you're launching so many of the things
The issue we're seeing does bring up the point that "Laser Brooms" can be used to help deorbit small junk though. The problem is that anyone who deploys the tech to do this can also deorbot equipment belonging to countries they're not friendly witrh
Cleaning up orbiting debris is less technically fraugt than politically - what's needed is for a joint body to oversee a cleanup effort but there aren't enough adults in the room (and the biggest messy kid with a temper is also the one with the biggest mouth and most weapons)
Wouldn't the other problem with laser brooms be that they get very warm very quickly? Even LED lasers?
The heat doesn't have anywhere to go. Space is very cold but is also very empty and dissipating heat via radiation is the least efficient way to cool anything down - which is why stars stay very hot even when the fuel runs out.
Normally when we have something hot we blow on it - conduction and convection work far more efficiently than radiation. This, ironically, is how radiators work - not by radiation at all.
In the near-vacuum of space there is nothing to conduct or convect heat, there is only radiation. So wouldn't lasers burn out very quickly?
Although getting rid of heat via radiation is not very efficient, it does still work, and that's exactly how spacecraft cool down.
Wikipedia says somewhere between 100-350W dissipated per square metre, which sounds restrictive, but you need about twice that area of solar panels to make the same amount of electricity.
So for a 1kW laser, you'd maybe have a pair of 1x10m solar panels, and a 1x7m radiator (probably at a right-angle to the solar). (approximate numbers)
"Wikipedia says somewhere between 100-350W dissipated per square metre, which sounds restrictive, but you need about twice that area of solar panels to make the same amount of electricity."
If you look at photos of ISS, the smaller panels are heat radiators not solar PV.
"In the near-vacuum of space there is nothing to conduct or convect heat, there is only radiation. So wouldn't lasers burn out very quickly?"
Yes. That's why military programs were testing the idea of putting the lasers on an aircraft that could fly high up and directly target something or use mirrors on sats to direct a beam.
This post has been deleted by its author
"The solar storm interrupted navigation to the proper orbit because the sats had to be switched to safe mode. "
Safe Mode in this instance is turning the sats edge on to the direction of travel and not deploying the solar panels rather than turning off computer/electronics. They were trying to minimize drag long enough to weather the storm. It wasn't enough.
The actual figures were 40/49. All the other satellites had already raised their orbit and were in no danger from Earth's atmosphere being kicked up by a coronal mass ejection.
What would make a difference is launching with a Starship instead of a Falcon 9. More satellites on each launch and rumours are that the satellites will be bigger and heavier. That future generation of satellite may be more or less susceptible depending on whether size or mass increases fastest.
Unless SpaceX is in the habbit of designing sats with lots of empty voids, mass generally rises at a power of 3 of any dimension increase, while frontal area only rises with the square of that increase (or not at all depending on orbital attitude). So it's very likely they'd be more resilient against effects like this
"What would make a difference is launching with a Starship instead of a Falcon 9. More satellites on each launch and rumours are that the satellites will be bigger and heavier."
I'm not hopeful that Starship will be a good platform. If they want to get it back, they'll need to work out some way to dispense the stack of sats and close the front back up again so is structurally sound enough to belly flop back to Earth. That's not going to be easy. It means putting more eggs in one basket as well.
The issue seems to be volume more than mass or the F9H would be a possibility. The V.2 sats must be larger so fewer will fit in a standard F9 fairing. Maybe a bit heavier too or a new longer fairing would be much cheaper.
Elon is a master of emo but he may have been telling too much when he said in a certain number of words that he was betting the future of SpaceX on Starlink which in turn may be highly dependent on getting the Raptor engines working as promised.
"Especially if a meteor slams 1 or 2 of them..."
I'd put my money on that bracket the holds the sats during launch smacking into a couple and they tell two friends and so on and so on....... There's a lot of junk in low Earth orbit and if it's going the other way the combined speed on impact is very impressive.
Shirley, they were insured?
But crap, I would reckon they were some of the nice new 2.0 sats with friggin laser beams and all.
Alternately, if they *were* insured and they were still the old model, Musk gets an upgrade for his premiums and doesn't have to use the old shelf-stock.
Wait... you don't think it was insurance fraud and he triggered that storm?!
Everybody knows that friggin laser beams are not enough. Musk needs to attach the friggin lasers to friggin sharks, then everything will go swimmingly after launch.
On a more serious note: I would be very much surprised if the satelites were insured. That would be very much an "old space" approach. Better use the spare money to create more satelites.
Also: Shielding would not have helped. Installing engines that are big enough to overcome the additional drag from the elevated atmosphere would have hleped, but this would mean that all other satelites would have to fly with over-sized (too heavy) engines installed. Better simply not to launch under these conditions. The fact that 9 units made it is a sign that it was very much touch and go. It COULD have worked. Now change the launch limitations, and in thefuture it WILL work.
That's the beauty of the SpaceX approach - they don't mind testing the limits to find out what is actually viable rather than just theoretically and being conservative with safety margins.
Using their cheap, mass produced starlink satellites in such a situation is worth it - if the launch is a success they get extra resources in-orbit; if not then they've learnt the limits without risking anything that their customers cherish.
Incumbents: it's deemed too risky; delay launch. SpaceX: 9 satellites in orbit & limits learned = success.
(the booster was re-used 6 times and most likely will be used again)
And if they get to launch Starship next month that will be another experiment -- albeit on a much larger scale. It has proved to be a stunning way to develop their kit. You don't even notice, but it is probably every week they are sending up one or more Falcon 9/Heavys.
And most launches now have some Starlink satellites tagged on.
Hey Elon, let me buy you a virtual pint :-) ----->
Whilst I can see that the "suck it and see" approach to engineering may produce benefits with the development of new rocket technologies such as Falcon 9/Heavy and Starship, given the decades of data available for satellites of all sizes this seems more of a waste of money than a legitimate experiment.
I appreciate the delays in launching were not down to SpaceX (particularly that idiotic Cruise Ship), but launching when you've got a major storm warning seems overly risky. If not a fit of pique.
$62M for ride in a shiny new Falcon 9 that is recovered at sea. Used to be $50 for a slighty sooty ride. There is a discount for buying in bulk. The internal cost is believed to be about $20M. There are additional costs for things like payload integration and adding propellant to the satellites.
Yep - and they now *know* a condition that they can't get away with.
Not really. It's not a precise science estimating effects at the top of the atmosphere. Getting measurements isn't easy so most predictions are based on models and estimates. All that can be said is if the exact thing happens again, it would be bad to try and launch Starlink satellites. Rotate the Earth back or forward a couple of hours and it may be worse or acceptable. Changing the nature and intensity of the sun's burp will make a big difference too.
It's probably less expensive to be more cautious and reschedule when solar events happen.
"Shirley, they were insured?"
Probably yes. But then again, knowing insurance companies, some questions will be asked about liability given that the storm was forecasted and SpaceX were warned, but chose to go ahead with the launch anyway. So even if insured, not guaranteed SpaceX will get a payout, and almost guaranteed there premiums will be higher next time round.
I would be absolutely amazed if SpaceX are insured for Starlink. For the same reason that governments don't insure their buildings.
If you own several thousand buildings, you'd actually pay out more in insurance premiums in a year than the cost of rebuilding one of them. You are basically big enough to be your own insurer. Given the number of Starlink satellites, and launches, the premiums just wouldn't be worth it.
At that point you might look at a different kind of insurance. You stop insuring individual components and launches, because the chance of a loss approaches certainty - but you might consider insurance for some sort of very unlikely but very damaging event - say more than 3 launches failing in a single year. Which given SpaceX's track record would probably be an affordable premium. Although even then, I doubt they've bothered. The thing they'll have insurance on is their factories, and maybe their launch facilities (though that's probably stupidly expensive too).
Why is it cavalier? Theres no risk to launching their own Starlink satellites and having them "fail" to maintain orbit in this manner, and it absolutely expands SpaceXs knowledge about LEO, geostorms and their Starlink satellite capabilities. That's how we learn stuff you do practical testing and gain real data.
Starlink is as much a testing proving ground for SpaceX rocket engineering, reliability and reusability as it is creating space internet.
And its hilarious really, SpaceX launched Falcon 9 3 times in 3 days, a launch rate record I believe in space history launch terms, successfully landed all the boosters, which have achieved now over 100 successful landings, largely due to Starlink missions And it's so mundane it doesnt even get mentioned anymore,even though less than a decade ago the experts claimed it was impossible.
And yet this is the same tech, the same boosters that launch human crews missions, so would you prefer SpaceX launched Falcon 9s repeatedly and in so doing learn about using their rockets that happen to put some expendable space internet stuff in orbit,or sat around waiting till conditions were absolutely perfect and let the humans take all the risks?
Wait... you don't think it was insurance fraud and he triggered that storm?!
The catch here is that SpaceX knew about this solar storm and chose to ignore the warning. I've not heard any reason why they ignored it and decided to launch. But enquiring minds do wonder why they went ahead and launched.
No matter how one thinks about Starlink,
the procedure to deploy into a low orbit, which inherently cleans itself from duds is a prudent procedure.
On the other hand, any satellite that dies in its final orbit will last much longer. And with the larger number of deployed sats, this is only a question of when, and not if.
You get around that by designing in features that helps it to be grappled even if it is tumbling wildly. You then use another Starlink satellite that is close to end of life to grapple and take the bad one down with it.
"if the satellites don't initially pass system checks, de-orbit and reentry will occur without producing space junk."
I don't get it - do they burn up on re-entry? Or instead of creating space junk do they just end up creating earth junk as thousands of non-biodegradable pieces of satellite are spread across earth?
And if you design and build sensitive enough detectors to actually measure that amount of ionized debris in the atmosphere (not just at the putative point of "impact" with said atmosphere) then I suspect you've got either a Nobel prize or a very lucrative DARPA contract coming your way.
"On the other hand, any satellite that dies in its final orbit will last much longer. And with the larger number of deployed sats, this is only a question of when, and not if."
There are a bunch of those already. The number keeps going up so I have no idea of the current tally ,but it includes most of the first batch.
If the space weather was known about in advance, why wasn't the launch delayed by 48 hours?
Because this way they have real life data about the impact instead of theoretical models. Given that nine satellites made it to final orbit, they now understand the limits a lot better.
Not really - they get raised to higher orbits in groups to allow the orbits to get separated (the orbits rotate around the earth gently, so you raise a few, wait some time and you're now in a different orbital position with the same inclination, then raise a few more... rinse and repeat.
And from what Scott Manley was saying it was primarily that they couldn't rotate themselves to position due to atmospheric drag, if they could then their thrusters could have kept them in orbit.
On one hand, having 40 satellites junked would be rough for almost any other constellation. On the other hand, at least these cleaned themselves up rather than becoming space junk for decades. Those low orbits were deliberate and part of how Starlink proved to the FCC that over 95% of the constellation would controllably drop from orbit at their ends of life.
> The Space Weather Prediction Center put a storm watch in place for the day of the launch as well as the day prior
It's at times like this I really wish I'd listened to what the Space Weather Prediction Center had said.
Why, what did they say?
I don't know, I didn't listen.
"So Mr Musk was whining a few months ago because SpaceX could go bankrupted, and now he takes the risk to wipe out dozens of satellite by not taking care of a forecasted magnetic storm??"
They are no where near out of the woods. They may be betting the whole company on Starlink and by some estimates, the new premium Starlink package is about where they need to be pricing their hardware and service to make a long term go of it. I'd steer clear of any IPO's.
Muck's space junk has ruined a number of evenings of telescope watching with their annoying space junk trails. It is past time to remove them and free the heavens.
If he is so desperate to be Samuel L. Jackson from The Kings Men, he can build a smaller number of geostationary satellites and give them away for free.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022